Prayer

Tip #5 in our series “Cultivating wellbeing in a church community”

“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” 
James 4:8

“Pray continually…”
1 Thessalonians 5:17

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
James 5:16

Charles Spurgeon, a famous 19th Century English preacher, had a
basement below his church where people could be found on their knees
praying. He called this prayer room the engine room of the church.  He
said, “If the engine room is out of action, then the whole mill will
grind to a halt.  We cannot expect blessing if we do not ask.”

A praying church is marked by believers who are joy-filled, thankful, who love their God and want to communicate with him regularly.

A praying church is marked by believers who are joy-filled, thankful, who love their God and want to communicate with him regularly.

Having said that, praying is one of the hardest habits to cultivate. No one drifts into praying.

Spurgeon also said this about praying: “Pray until you can pray; pray to be helped to pray and do not give up praying because you cannot pray.  For it is when you think you cannot pray, that is when you are praying.”

Personally, it took more than just a desire to be a prayerful woman to becoming a woman who prays. It took effort, discipline and time.  A number of years ago, I wanted to be a woman who consistently prayed for others – those serving in difficult places, for my church, my friends and my family.  I was inspired to cultivate a habit of praying after visiting a Muslim country and being awakened early each morning by the call to prayer.  In fact, there were numerous calls to prayer. I asked the question, “What could I learn from the disciplines and habits that I was watching?”

I set my phone to remind me to pray each morning. My children laughed at me and referred to this as “Mum’s call to prayer”.  Over time, it worked.  I discovered the App called PrayerMate and it helped me build times of prayer into my daily routine. 

I started small. I began with the Lord’s Prayer and the daily Psalm that I had read. Five minutes each day adds up. I have become a bit of a bower bird and collected prayers from the Bible, the Anglican Prayer book, and various other prayers written by God’s people in the past.

These prayers have given me words when I have had no words and felt like I couldn’t pray. These prayers have lifted my soul, made me glad, made me rejoice in my salvation and my God. This is a habit worth cultivating.

I nested this habit in another habit that was already a part of my life – my daily morning cup of tea.  My husband brings me a cup of tea to drink each morning and now he also brings my iPad containing PrayerMate and my bible.  The secular research suggests that nesting habits with other habits helps them to become part of your regular routines.

Ways to cultivate prayer in your own life and in your church:

  • Think about what times would work best for you to build the habit of prayer into your daily routine. What existing habits do you have that you could nest together with praying?  For example: breakfast, travel to work, a cup of tea, bedtime….
  • Think about places where you could pray – is there a favourite chair, spot in the garden or your trip to work in the car or on a train that will help your brain connect that this is the time you pray.
  • Use a verse that you have read in your daily devotions to shape your own prayers for yourself and for others. 

A personal example, I recently read this verse: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”  (Psalm 143:8) Over a week, I have returned to this verse and used it to remind myself of the Lord’s unfailing love, and that He is trustworthy.  As I have prayed for others, I have sent a quick text message telling them I have prayed and shared this verse.

  • Read a book about prayer – for example: Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller, A Praying Life by Paul Miller.
  • When meeting one to one with another Christian, ask them how you can be praying for them and then pray.
  • Start and end your church meetings with prayer.
  • Build regular prayer meetings into the church calendar.
  • At the end of church services, have mature Christians available to pray for those in need.
  • Learn from the saints about prayer – John Stott, C.H. Spurgeon, Corrie ten Boon, Susanna Wesley – use their prayers, use their habits.

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